George Thorogood and the Destroyers – 2120 South Michigan Avenue (2011)

Posted: July 17, 2011 in Music

It’s no secret that George Thorogood has been snake-bit by the blues. Since his arrival on the scene back in the mid-70s, Thorogood has kicked out his own revved-up version of the sound from the Mississippi Delta over 16 albums and a career entering its fifth decade. You know the songs, you know the style, you know the attitude.

In what has taken a lifetime of influence to put together, George, with his Destroyers aboard, has just released his latest album 2120 South Michigan Avenue. The album is named for the original Chicago address of Chess Records, home to just about every legendary blues performer during the 50s and 60s. These were the names that shaped Thorogood’s style, and he has taken this album as an opportunity to pay homage to the blues greats that shaped him heavily as an artist.

Kicking things off is “Going Back,” a blistering new song written by Thorogood and Grammy-award winning producer Tom Hambridge. The track gives George and the Destroyers an opportunity for an original shout out to the past in his own unique, gritty, snarled sound. The tribute continues with Thorogood covering a few hand-picked classics: “High Heel Sneakers” (featuring Buddy Guy, who originally recorded the song for Chess), Willie Dixon`s “Seventh Son.” Howlin Wolf`s “Spoonful”, Chuck Berry`s “Let It Rock”, Muddy Waters’ “Two Trains Running”, Bo Diddley`s “Bo Diddley”, J.B. Lenoir`s “Mama Talk To Your Daughter” Sonny Boy Williamson`s “Help Me”, Little Walter`s “My Babe” (featuring Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica), and Jimmy Rogers’ “Chicago Bound”.

If you listen to the blues, you realize how complete this selection is, but you don’t have to be a historian to enjoy these songs. Thorogood does a great job of chewing these originals up and spitting them back out with his fuck-it-all attitude and bar-fight swagger. The sincerity with which he approaches these tracks shows, but you could easily mistake the album as a bunch of Thorogood originals. He’s tried to stay true to the track’s classic form, but couldn’t help soaking them in bourbon and injecting a shot of gasoline into them – after all, he is George Thorogood.

Another original is thrown in towards the end, penned by Thorogood and Hambridge again, and assisted by legendary Nashville songwriter Richard Fleming, titled “Willie Dixon`s Gone.” Fleming’s bluegrass influence is heavy, and the track rolls along like a freight train. It’s obvious Thorogood can still belt out a track – and this might be his best original since the early days.

Closing out the album is the inspiration for the whole collection – the instrumental Rolling Stones track off their 1964 12×5 LP “2120 South Michigan Avenue”. When Thorogood was a teenager in Delaware he purchased this as his first Rolling Stones album – portions of which were recorded at Chess in June 1964 – and the rest has been history.

While the album isn’t going to be a windfall of commercial success (it wasn’t really designed for that), it’s a great trip down memory lane from one of rock’s original bad boys – and fans of both Thorogood and good blues will love it. If nothing else, it shows that George can still walk the walk, and for me, that’s more than enough.


01. Going Back
02. Hi-Heel Sneakers (Featuring Buddy Guy)
03. Seventh Son
04. Spoonful
05. Let It Rock
06. Two Trains Running (Still A Fool)
07. Bo Diddley
08. Mama Talk To Your Daughter
09. Help Me
10. My Babe (Featuring Charlie Musselwhite)
11. Willie Dixon’s Gone
12. Chicago Bound
13. 2120 South Michigan Ave (Featuring Charlie Musselwaite)

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